Early Orthodontic Treatment (Dento-Facial Orthopedics)

The American Association of Orthodontics issued a position paper some 35 years ago espousing the benefits of an orthodontic exam at age 7.  By age 7, “the writing is on the wall”, Dr. Chapman can evaluate and determine your child’s growth pattern and if there is enough room for all the permanent teeth.  There are some great advantages to treating certain orthodontic cases in two separate stages. Unfortunately, nature doesn’t always get it right, jaws can grow misaligned in many ways.   The goal of the Early (Phase I) treatment is to develop well-oriented jaws, healthy bones and gums, and adequate room for permanent teeth. Children sometimes exhibit early signs of jaw problems as they grow and develop. For example, an upper or lower jaw that is growing too much or not enough can benefit from early orthodontic treatment. Crowded jaws can also benefit from early observation and treatment. This early correction can prevent the removal of permanent teeth due to excessive overbite or overcrowding. If you believe a problem exists, you are most likely correct in your assessment.

Generally, we use a growth-modifying appliance for skeletal problems, limiting the need for braces and extraction of permanent teeth, to create necessary space for patients between 7 and 11 years of age. In our practice, approximately 50 percent of patients evaluated between these ages undergo early treatment. Our goals for these cases are:

  • Influence jaw growth in a positive manner14-1004Chapman-469
  • Reduce the need to extract permanent teeth
  • Improve the width of the dental arches
  • Reduce/eliminate the need for jaw surgery
  • Mitigate the risk of trauma to (or breakage of) protruding front teeth
  • Correct harmful oral habits and/or improve speech development through timely referral to a speech and swallow therapist
  • Improve facial aesthetics, which translate to higher self-esteem
  • Simplify and shorten treatment time for Phase II (Braces)
  • Improve the position of erupting teeth
  • Preserve or create more space for erupting teeth
  • Guide permanent teeth into more favorable position(s) for better periodontal (gums) health
  • Take advantage of increased orthodontic compliance before the busy teenage years

During Phase II treatment (Braces), our goal is to position all of the permanent teeth to maximize their appearance, improve their functional integrity as well as their longevity. This is best accomplished by placing braces on all of the upper and lower teeth. The treatment length for Phase II is generally 12-14 months long.